If you have any questions which are not answered, please feel free to ask me and I’ll do my best to respond.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m a people watcher – I find the way human’s interact really interesting and I love writing about the way we all fit together – a bit like lego pieces.
Whenever I look outside my door or am working in the sheep yards, I gain more fodder to work with for my stories. I get so much joy from watching lambs and calves play, sunsets and sun rises and being outside, I really do want to share it with others. For the ideas, it’s often just small snippets of conversations or things I hear on the radio that give me ideas for story lines. One of the best questions I can ask myself as a writer is ‘What if?”
In the case of Purple Roads:
“What if: the fertiliser was stolen for a farm who couldn’t afford it to be taken?”
“What if: it tipped the family over the edge and sent them to a mortgagee sale?”
‘What if?” Do you see where I’m going?
I heard a story on ABC Radio about two golden wedding rings that had been found somewhere up north – I never really heard the rest of the story, because my brain went into overdrive with ‘what if?’ questions and then I followed my imagination on the rest. The result of that was Silver Clouds.
Where do you find the time?
Now I’m not farming full time, time certainly isn’t the factor it once was. But leading up to now, I was a famer, a carer for my mother-in-law, a mum and a writer. Enough to do anyone’s head in!
I believe that if you want to do something badly enough, you will find the time. Whether it’s scribbling something while I was in the ute shifting sheep, or having to pull over on the side of a road to write a thought down, or running to Perth with my Mother-in-law while she was dying, I always made time.
How did you get started as a writer?
I started writing children’s books, mostly for my son who is autistic. I was trying to help increase his attention span by writing about things he knew, like our working dog and pet lambs. At the time I was doing a comprehensive writing course and the module we were studying asked for a kid’s story. I sent one I’d already written in to my tutor. He came back with rave reviews and insisted I try and find a publisher.
I found an agent to act on my behalf for the kid’s books, but when she read my Rural Literature novel, Red Dust, she didn’t think it had wings.
My tutor disagreed and told me to find a publisher or agent who would read Red Dust, so I sent it into Allen and Unwin’s Friday Pitch Day. The first email I had back was a ‘positive rejection’ telling me ‘your writing is strong and commercial’. I tweaked the first three chapters and about four months later re-sent it, saying I had already emailed it in once, but would they look at it again? I had a contract within a month.
Incidentally, it’s taken thirteen years, but I sold my first kids book last year and Noisy Nights will be out in August 2016.
Did you know you were going to be a writer?
The short answer to this one is no! I never dreamed of becoming published until my tutor gave me a not so gentle push in that direction!
I have always written; there are scrolls of stories I wrote as a kid, somewhere buried in my old bedroom in my parent’s house and I was a compulsive letter writer at boarding school. I’ve always loved putting words together, but never, ever thought I was good enough to tell stories to others.
Do you have a favourite character?
I LOVE writing Detective Dave Burrows. He started right at the start with me, and was an important character in Red Dust. Nowadays, he’s in all of the most recent books. He’s just great fun to write and I love his sassy, charismatic wife, Kim.
Who are your favourite authors?
Oh, there are so many! I really love forensic science, detective and murder mysteries. I think they are my favourite type of book, so in this area, these are my favourites:
- Michael Connelly
- Patricia Cornwell’s early writings
- John Grisham
- Richard Patterson-North
- Lee Child
- Sue Grafton
- Sandra Brown
- Tony Park
- Kathy Reichs
- Michael Robotham
And I do love a good family saga. Some of those authors are:
- Belinda Alexandra
- Jane Green
- Monica McInerney
- Fiona McIntosh
- Kimberley Freeman
- Kate Morton
- Diane Chamberlain
This list is by no means complete! I’ve just picked a few of my favourites!